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Lowey Floor Remarks on Puerto Rico Earthquake Supplemental

WASHINGTON — House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey today delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in support of H.R. 5687, an emergency supplemental appropriations bill to provide support to Puerto Rico following a series of recent earthquakes:

In recent weeks, thousands of families in Puerto Rico were forced from their homes, schools were flattened, and roads and infrastructure were severely damaged as earthquakes wracked an island still struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

While President Trump has finally released some of the aid Congress appropriated for those hurricanes, more support is clearly needed. We must act now on our shared responsibility to assist Americans in need.

This emergency supplemental would provide $4.67 billion in targeted assistance to help families and communities recover from these devastating earthquakes and put Puerto Rico on a better path to long-term recovery. It includes:

  • $3.26 billion in Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds;
  • $1.25 billion for repairs to damaged road systems;
  • $100 million to restart school operations;
  • $40 million for disaster nutrition assistance in Puerto Rico; and
  • More than $20 million to help address the island’s energy needs.

In addition, this bill would provide Puerto Rico with flexibility to use this funding in conjunction with earlier disaster relief resources.

Critically, it also takes swift action against the Trump administration’s outrageous withholding of vital aid to Puerto Rico. This bill would require detailed spending plans and mandate that funding be released in a timely manner.

Finally, the bill carries a number of tax-related provisions in the jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means that will complement the emergency appropriations and support working families and encourage economic growth.

Our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico need our help. Unless we step up to the plate right now, we further jeopardize their safety and security.

With this bill, we can provide families and communities swift relief and put Puerto Rico on the path to long-term recovery.

I urge my colleagues to join me in support of this legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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